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Sunday, April 24, 2016

A night at Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve - "a flashing beacon to guide them"

We exited I-40 and drove North on Kelbaker Road.
Turned left at the sign.
Set up camp about a mile from the dunes at the end of the road.
Later in the afternoon shadows grew long.
A single figure on top of the main dune.
The last light of day on the Providence Mountains.
A flag to welcome the approaching Explorers.
Around 8:30 PM lights from two vehicles appeared in the distance.
90 minutes later 12 families had arrived and set up camp in the darkness.
At 11PM the Explorers hiked into the dunes toward the high-point. Everyone hiked together on the way to the top but took many different routes on their return. Isabella was the first to the summit. I placed a flashing beacon on top of our camper to guide the hikers home. While out in the dunes I met a young man named Osie from Sandy Valley now living in Las Vegas. The next week he sent me an email with a link to a story about his visit to the Kelso Dunes.
I walked down the road to visit the other campsites.
The smell of pancakes was in the air.
Soon out on the dunes morning was turning to day.
Six members of our group walked out to a steep slope and surfed the sand with Ryan's boogie board.
A yellow bunny was sighted near the Gleason camp.
By 11AM we were all headed home.
The potholed pavement of Kelbaker Road led us south to I-40.
We stopped at the Sonic Drive-in in Victorville for lunch.
And discovered some Explorers had the same idea.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Across Deadman Flat - Inyo National Forest - "a scary way to go to work"

We turned left off of Death Valley Road and drove north up a wash toward Deadman Flat.
Sometimes the road was more wash than road.
Sierra Nevada to the West.
Panorama of the flats.
Soon our route climbed off the flats and up to a ridge.
I decided to walk the road out to the Riche Mine.
Not much of a camp and did not find the remains of any cabins.
Evidence of habitation was found at several locations.
This shaft was located about 100 yards North of the camp.
A scary way to go to work.
I followed an old trail west off the ridge and discovered this adit and several prospects.
On the walk back to the truck I stopped to admire the view of the Sierra Nevada from the Riche Mine camp.
We set up camp on a ridge about a mile South of the mine. Jan prepared tacos for dinner.
The next morning we drove South back to Death Valley Road.
Then we headed West toward the Owens Valley and then on to Lone Pine for lunch.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The other Marble Canyon, DVNP - "appeared in the darkness."

 After exiting Jackass Canyon we turned right and drove down Marble Canyon.
 It was only a short drive to the Easy Pickings Mine cabin.
 A couple of entries from the cabin's log book. I visited when we returned home and was very impressed with the hikes that Steve Hall has made in Death Valley.
 The last entry in the book. Probably the people who made the foot prints that we found later in the canyon.
We drove a short distance past the cabin and set up camp.
Later in the afternoon Jan, Bosco and I hiked down the canyon. When we reached this formation Jan turned back for camp but Bosco and I continued on.
Soon we started to encounter artifacts from the era of placer mining.
Some of the artifacts were quite old.
Just about every time we jumped up out of the gravel stream bed there was evidence of mining.
I rested my phone on top of a claim marker to get a GPS fix and was struck by the incredible advance in navigation that happened in the time between this marker being made and my visit.
Farther down the canyon we found the remains of a shack, fireplace and foundations for tent cabins.
Across the wash was the rusting carcass of an car. Always seems odd to find automobiles, mines and man made structures inside of "wilderness."
About 200 yards past the car we found the first footprints on the canyon floor. Lower print is my size 14 boot track.
Collapsed placer shaft.
Debris near the shaft.
A very old tire.
More debris at the camp.
A 1/4 of a mile later I smelled blooming flowers. The area of the bloom only lasted a few hundred yards.
Soon we reached the mouth of the lower narrows.
 Bosco and I were racing against sunset to reach the Twin Canyon junction before the light failed.
We moved quickly down the canyon.
Found a claim marker on the side of the canyon.
Twin Canyon Junction ahead.
Rusty remains at the junction.
There was a short slot at the mouth of the canyon on the right.
A look down canyon but our hike would turn around here.

One last look back at the Twin Canyon Junction.
The light was fading fast and 30 minutes after this photo it was time for a headlamp.
Two hours later and the lights of the camper appeared in the darkness.
A cloudy dawn in Marble Canyon.
Bosco relaxing on his bed resting his sore paws. We had hiked more than 11 miles in the last 26 hours and Bosco, with all of his running around, probably logged 15. I should have put his boots on for four or five miles.
On our drive back to the Saline Road we stopped to visit several of the old camps.
Around noon we reached the broad graded surface of the Saline Road and drove on to our next destination.